Uganda confirms Ebola case as virus spreads from DRCongo

This Tuesday, April, 16, 2019 file photo taken in Congo shows an Ebola health worker at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo. (AP)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Uganda confirms Ebola case as virus spreads from DRCongo

  • Symptoms include high fever, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat which are often followed by vomiting and diarrhea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure

KAMPALA: A five-year-old boy is being treated for Ebola in Uganda, the first case since a deadly outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo 10 months ago, Health Minister Ruth Aceng said Tuesday.
Uganda has been on high alert since the outbreak across a porous border in the eastern DRC, where more than 2,000 cases of the highly contagious virus have been recorded, two-thirds of which have been fatal.
“An Ebola case has been confirmed positive,” Aceng told AFP.
She said the patient was a boy who had traveled with his family from the western Ugandan town of Kasese to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a funeral, and fell sick upon his return.
“The boy has been taken into isolation unit as have other family members for monitoring. He is receiving treatment,” she said.
The World Health Organization confirmed the highly contagious virus had spread to Uganda, in its second-worst outbreak ever.
“The Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk, and ensure they are monitored and provided with care if they also become ill,” the WHO said in a statement.
According to the WHO, Uganda vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 facilities with an experimental drug designed to protect them against the virus.
Uganda has experienced several outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012, while in 2000 more than 200 people died in an outbreak in the north of the country.

The DRC has struggled to contain the outbreak which was first recorded in North Kivu province on August 1 and then spread to neighboring Ituri and has left over 1,300 dead.
Efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centers and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.
Five workers have been killed, according to an AFP tally, and important preventative work, such as vaccination programs and burials of Ebola victims, has been delayed.
The outbreak is the 10th in Democratic Republic of Congo since the disease was identified in 1976.
It is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014-2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.
“It is clear the current response to tackle Ebola isn’t working. No matter how effective treatment is, if people don’t trust or understand it, they will not use it,” Oxfam’s director for the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said last week.
“Our teams are still meeting people on a daily basis who don’t believe Ebola is real... many cases are going unnoticed because people with symptoms have been avoiding treatment.”
Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads among humans though close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines can also become infected, and humans who kill and eat these animals can catch the virus through them.
Symptoms include high fever, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat which are often followed by vomiting and diarrhea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding.
At present there is no licensed drug to prevent or treat Ebola although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighboring countries.
The average fatality rate from Ebola is around 50 percent, varying from 25 to 90 percent, according to the WHO.


US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced visit to Kabul

Updated 25 June 2019
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US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced visit to Kabul

  • Pompeo met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during an unannounced visit to Kabul to discuss ongoing peace talks with the Taliban
  • Pompeo stopped over on his way to New Delhi for meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials

KABUL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during an unannounced visit to Kabul on Tuesday to discuss ongoing peace talks with the Taliban and the security situation ahead of Afghan presidential polls in September.
Pompeo stopped over on his way to New Delhi for meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials.
“With so much going on in the world right now it’s sometimes easy to forget about America’s commitment here to Afghanistan, but the world should know that the Trump administration has not forgotten, the American people have not forgotten,” Pompeo said in Kabul.
His visit to Afghanistan comes ahead of a seventh round of peace talks between Taliban leaders and US officials aimed at finding a political settlement to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. The next round of peace talks is scheduled to begin on June 29 in Doha.
The talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee that militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.
“While we’ve made clear to the Taliban that were prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear, we’ve not yet agreed on a timeline to do so,” said Pompeo.
“We agree that peace is our highest priority and that Afghanistan must never again serve as a platform for international terrorism.”
He said the two sides are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban’s commitment to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for “terrorists.”
Momentum for talks with the Taliban is steadily building, with a special US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, pushing the peace process and insurgent leaders showing serious interest in negotiating for the first time. Ghani has also offered repeatedly to talk with the Taliban but they have insisted that they will not deal directly with the Ghani government.
“All sides agree that finalizing a US-Taliban understanding on terrorism and foreign troop presence will open the door to intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation,” Pompeo said, adding that next step is at the heart of the US effort.
“We are not and will not negotiate with the Taliban on behalf of the government or people of Afghanistan.”